Peoria Journal Star

January 31, 2007

Lawmakers criticize Bush for not visiting hardest-hit Illinois towns



WASHINGTON - As President Bush highlighted the strength of the national economy Tuesday in Peoria, Sen. Dick Durbin blamed the Bush administration's economic policies for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the region.

Speaking on the Senate floor, the Illinois Democrat noted Bush chose not to visit Herrin, where 1,000 jobs were lost recently when Maytag Corp. closed its plant there or Pinckneyville, where 444 factory jobs were lost in March.

"The reality of America's economy is that on his watch we have lost 3 million manufacturing jobs," Durbin said. "Some of them have been replaced with jobs in convenience stores. But we all know the harsh reality. A person working for a minimum wage in a convenience store is not going to be able to take care of their family like someone in a manufacturing job."

Durbin criticized the Bush administration for not doing enough to enforce trade agreements.

"The Bush administration needs to stand up for working families and fight off unfair trade practices that steal good jobs from America," he said.

"If you want to know the real state of the economy, don't sit down and talk to the economists," Durbin said. "Talk to the real working families of Illinois and across America who are struggling each day to make ends meet, going deeper in debt on their credit cards bills and wondering if their kids will have as good a chance in the America to come," Durbin said.

In a statement issued by his office, Democratic Rep. Phil Hare invited Bush to visit nearby Galesburg, which lost 1,600 manufacturing jobs when Maytag moved its plant to Mexico - which Hare attributed to unfair trade agreements. "Districts like mine in western Illinois have been disproportionately affected by the president's ill-advised economic agenda," said Hare, adding that recent Labor Department statistics show that Illinois ranked 49th in the nation in terms of job growth and economic recovery since 2003.

Meanwhile, health care, energy and education have become harder for average families to afford, Hare said.

"Instead of working to ease the burden on people in need, the president and his allies in Congress have pushed through enormous tax cuts for the wealthy, leaving our children and grandchildren with a projected $2 trillion deficit," he said.

"If the president wants to truly gauge the strength of the economy, I invite him to visit Galesburg and cities like it to see this 'middle-class squeeze' first-hand," Hare said.


Dori Meinert can be reached at (202) 737-7686 or